The Etna Viewpoint

Volcanic monitoring and eruption forecasting

As technology stands, it is not possible to predict well in advance or with certainty whether, how, where and when eruptions will occur.
Monitoring in volcanic areas, which in Italy is carried out by the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, is based on interdisciplinary tools and studies including various branches of geology. Nowadays, the lower cost of the “classic” seismometers means that dozens of them can be placed at different points of the volcano, joined by instruments that measure the flow of gases emitted by the volcano and their chemical composition.
Other instruments, positioned at strategic points of the volcano, instead measure possible “bulges” in the volcanic structure. In recent years, all these techniques have also been joined by the use of satellites, which can view the expansion or contraction of the volcanic structure with precision and within one centimetre.
The combination of all these techniques and technologies, to which more can be added, combined with statistics from past eruptive events, leads to a rather reliable indication of what the “alert thresholds” of a volcano might be. These thresholds are simply numbers relating to each instrument that, once exceeded, change the alert status from green, which indicates inactivity with normal degassing, to a yellow warning, and to the orange/red of danger and probable eruption. However, there are still no statistics on eruptive cases that would indicate that an eruption will “certainly” occur. There have been a great many cases in the last twenty years where an alert status was reached, but with no eruption.
That is why basic research and volcanic monitoring are still fundamental to understand the dynamics that lead to an eruption, in order to have a clear idea in the near future on how to forewarn of an eruption in a given volcanic system.

Acireale and its “timpe”

Torre del Filosofo: at the base of the summit craters (2950 metres)

The continuous evolution of the Etna summit craters

Etna, the living mountain

The earthquake that changed the geography of eastern Sicily in 1693

The senses tell Valle del Leone

The senses tell Torre del Filosofo

Etna, an ever-changing natural laboratory

The 1669 eruption in Catania

The Grand Tour in Sicily

The “notches” of snow

An ever-evolving volcano

The senses tell The Summit craters

Lachea Island and the Aci Trezza Stacks

Humankind and the volcano: how should we behave? Volcanic risk

The senses tell Acireale

The senses tell Acicastello and Acitrezza

The Elliptical, the first great volcano of Etna


The Etna viewpoint

The senses tell The Etna viewpoint

Volcanic monitoring and eruption forecasting

Etna: a marvellous group of microclimates and vegetation

Valle del Leone and the Elliptical

The Red Mountains and the destructive eruption of 1669

Val Calanna, the first step towards a single large volcanic structure

Why did Etna form in that specific geographical position?

Empedocles and his passion for Etna

Acireale and reconstruction after the 1693 earthquake

The eruption of 1928 that destroyed the town of Mascali

The Jaci river

A fauna context yet to be discovered

The 2001 eruption of Mount Etna, where the approach to volcanoes changed

The senses tell The Red Mountains

Etna, wine terroir of excellence

Summit crater activity between 2011 and 2019

The different names of the “Muntagna”

The first Etnean volcanic events between Aci Castello and Aci Trezza

The senses tell Val Calanna

The fault system of the “Timpe” of Acireale